For almost half of their 54 years of marriage, Paul and Juanita Gagne have battled against his heart disease.
Twenty-five years ago, Paul Gagne, 77, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens the heart muscle. Last year, he received a type of mechanical heart support called a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, to assist with his heart condition.
You might not give it much thought throughout the day, but your heart is working around the clock for you. Your heart is the most important muscle in your body because it pumps blood to all of your organs.
When your heart doesn’t get the care it needs, serious problems can develop. Understand the conditions that affect your heart and the habits that can help prevent or manage them. Taking action will help you keep your ticker in top shape.
As his primary caregiver, his wife Juanita, 75, performs a daily sterile dressing change where the LVAD line comes out from his abdomen. She does most of the cooking to follow a low-salt and low-fat diet, reminds him to take his medications, and goes to doctor’s appointments with him.
“I’m just happy to do it and that I still have him. You have to know in your mind that this is something you want to do, and set yourself to it,” says Juanita, a Grandview, Mo., resident.
Doctors play an important role in guiding patients and caregivers on how to manage heart disease. WebMD spoke with two cardiologists about tips and advice they offer to caregivers on how to take care of someone with heart problems.
Paul’s doctor, Tracy Stevens, MD, a cardiologist with Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart and Vascular Institute in Kansas City, Mo., recommends a general guideline of one protein and two colors -- fruits or vegetables -- for each meal. It keeps patients away from french fries, chips, and cheese, she says. Her other tips include:
Meet with a dietitian to design a customized plan that fits your particular heart condition.